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Form'd infinitely various, vex the mind
With endless storm : whence, deeply rankling, grows
The partial thought, a listless unconcern,
Cold, and averting from our neighbour's good;
Then dark disgust, and hatred, winding wiles,
Coward deceit, and ruffian violence :
At last, extinct each social feeling, fell
And joyless inhumanity pervades
And petrifies the heart. Nature disturb'd
Is deem'd, vindictive, to have chang'd her course.
Hence, in old dusky time, a deluge came:
When the deep-cleft disparting orb, that arch'd
The central waters round, impetuous rush’d,
With universal burst, into the gulf,
And o'er the high-pil'd hills of fractur'd earth
Wide dash'd the waves, in undulation vast;
Till, from the centre to the streaming clouds,
A shoreless ocean tumbled round the globe.
The Seasons since have, with severer sway,
Oppress’d a broken world: the Winter keen
Shook forth his waste of snows; and Summer shot
His pestilential heats. Great Spring, before,
Green'd all the year; and fruits and blossoms blush'd,
In social sweetness, on the self-same bough.
Pure was the temperate air ; an even calm
Perpetual reigu’d, save what the zephyrs bland
Breath'd o'er the blue expanse : for then nor storms
Were taught to blow, nor burricaves to rage;
Sound slept the waters; no sulphureous glooms
Swell'd in the sky, and sent the lightning forth;
While sickly damps, and cold autumnal fogs,
Hung not, relaxing, on the springs of life.
But now, of turbid elements the sport,
From clear to cloudy tost, from hot to cold,
And dry to moist, with inward-eating change, Our drooping days are dwindled down to nought, Their period finishid ere 'tis well begun.
And yet the wholesome herb neglected dies ; Though with the pure exhilarating soul Of nutriment and health, and vital powers, Beyond the search of art, 'tis copious blest. For, with bot ravine fir'd, ensanguinid Man Is now become the lion of the plain, And worse. The wolf, who from the nightly fold Fierce drags the bleating prey, ne'er drunk her milk, Nor wore her warming fleece: nor has the steer, At whose strong chest the deadly tiger hangs, E'er plough'd for him. They too are temper'd high, With hunger stung and wild necessity, Nor lodges pity in their shaggy breast. But man, whom Nature form'd of milder clay, With every kind emotion in his heart, And taught alone to weep; while from her lap She pours ten thousand delicacies, herbs, And fruits, as numerous as the drops of rain Or beams that gave them birth : shall he, fair form! Who wears sweet smiles, and looks erect on Heaven, E’er stoop to mingle with the prowling herd, And dip his tongue in gore? the beast of prey, Blood-stain'd, deserves to bleed: but you, ye tlocks, What have you done; ye peaceful people, what, To merit death? you, who have given us milk In luscious streams, and lent is your own coat Against the Winter's cold? and the plain ox, That harmless, honest, guileless aninial, In what has he offended ? he, wlrose toil, Patient and ever ready, clothes the land With all the pomp of harvest ; shall lie bleed, And struggling groan beneath the cruel hands
Even of the clown he feeds ? and that, perhaps,
To swell the riot of the autumnal feast,
Won by his labour? thus the feeling heart
Would tenderly suggest : but 'tis enough,
In this late age, adventrous, to have touch'd
Light on the nnmbers of the Samian sage.
High Heaven forbids the bold presumptuous strain,
Whose wisest will has fix'd us in a state .
That must not yet to pure perfection rise.
Now when the first foul torrent of the brooks,
Sweli'd with the verpal rains, is ebb'd away,
And, whítening, down their mossy-tinctur'd stream
Descends the billowy foam: now is the time,
While yet the dark brown water aids the guile,
To tempt the trout. The well-dissembled fly,
The rod fine-tapering with elastic spring,
Snatch'd from the hoary steed the floating line,
And all thy slender watry stores prepare.
But let not on thy hook the tortur'd worm,
Convulsive, twist in agonizing folds ;
Which, by rapacious hunger swallow'd deep,
Gives, as you tear it from the bleeding breast
Of the weak helpless uncomplaining wretch,
Harsh pain and horror to the tender hand.
When with his lively ray the potent sun Has pierc'd the streams, and rous’d the finny-race, Then, issuing cheerful, to thy sport repair ; Chief should the western breezes curling play, And light o'er ether bear the shadowy clouds. High to their fount, this day, amid the hills, And woodlands warbling round, trace up the brooks; The next, pnrsue their rocky-channel'd maze, Down to the river, in whose ample wave Their little naiads love to sport at large. Jast in the dubious point, where with the pool
Is mix'd the trembling stream, or where it boils
Around the stone, or from the hallow'd bank
Reverted plays in undulating flow,
There throw; nice-judging, the delusive fly;
And as you lead it round in artful curve,
With eye attentive mark the springing game.
Straight as above the surface of the flood
They wanton rise, or urg'd by hunger leap,
They fix, with gentle twitch, the barbed hook :
Some lightly tossing to the grassy bank,
And to the shelving shore slow-dragging some,
With various hand proportion'd to their force.
If yet too young, and easily deceiv'd,
A worthless prey scarce bends your pliant rod,
Him, piteous of his youth and the short space
He has enjoy'd the vital light of Heaven,
Soft disengage, and back into the stream
The speckled captive throw. But should you lure
From his dark haunt, beneath the tangled roots
Of pendent trees, the monarch of the brook,
Behoves you then to ply your finest art.
Long time he, following cautious, scans the fiy,
And oft attempts to seize it, but as oft
The dimpled water speaks bis jealous fear.
At last, while haply o'er the shaded sun
Passes a cloud, he desperate takes the death,
With sullen plunge. At once he darts along,
Deep-struck, and runs out all the lengthened line';
Then seeks the farthest ooze, the sheltering weed,
The cavern'd bank, his old secure abode ;
And flies aloft, and flounces round the pool,
Indignant of the guile. With yielding hand,
That feels him still, yet to his furious course
Gives way, you, now retiring, following now
Across the stream, exhaust his idle rage :
Till floating broad upon his breathless side,
And to his fate abandon’d, to the shore
You gaily drag your unresisting prize.
Thus pass the temperate hours; but when the sun Shakes from his noon-day throne the scattering
Even shooting listless languor through the deeps ;
Then seek the bank where flowering elders crowd,
Where scatter'd wild the lily of the vale
Its balmy essence breathes, where cowslips hang
The dewy head, where purple violets lurk,
With all the lowly children of the shade :
Or lie reclin'd beneath yon spreading ash,
Hung o'er tlie steep; whence, borne on liqnid wing,
The sounding culver shoots; or where the hawk,
High, in the beetling cliff, his eyry builds.
There let the classic page thy fancy lead
Through rural scenes; such as the Mantuan swain
in the matchless barniony of song.
Or catch thyself the landscape, gliding swift
Athwart imagination's vivid eye:
Or by the vocal woods and waters lull'd,
And lost in lonely musing, in the dream,
Confus'd, of careless solitude, where mix
Ten thonsand wandering images of things,
Soothe every gust of passion into peace;
All but the swellings of the soften'd heart,
That waken, not disturb, the tranquil mind.
Bebold yon breathing prospect bids the Muse
Throw all her beauty forth. But who can paint
Like Nature? Can imagination boast,
Amid its gay creation, hues like hers?
Or can it mix them with that matchless skill,